DEFINITION OF CATEGORIES OF CONSERVATION PRIORITY
This group includes components and zones which must be provided the greatest level of protection. Priority I resources (components) are either “highly sensitive”, or “sensitive and rare”, or “highly rare” for the island, Quebec, or Canada. Priority I sectors are considered “unique” or “highly sensitive” on account of either the presence or unusual number of “highly sensitive” or “sensitive” elements or which constitute an outstanding combination of elements in terms of diversity. Priority I sectors are also crucial in terms of the conservation of island habitats. All human activity occurring in Priority I zones runs the risk of ultimately extinguishing the element in question. Returning these zones to the original condition, in cases where degradation has occurred, is either an impossibility or necessitates human intervention.
Generally speaking, this category includes the shoreline of Grosse Île and certain inland habitats located on the western tip of the island. These areas have been earmarked for extra protection because they are home to a number of rare species, including wild leek, floerkea false mermaid, and Dryopteris Felix-mas . A particularly rich habitat, the shoreline of Grosse Île requires a high level of protection, especially as it currently features 14 rare, endangered or threatened species. In addition, a number of species are located at the furthest limit of their distribution area. The Grosse Île shoreline is an outstanding habitat for wildlife, and is visited each year by thousands of ducks and snow geese during migrations. During the summer season, the main inlets provide protection and food to several species of ducks and other shore birds.
Normally, Priority I sectors ought to be included within a “special preservation” zone which is either off limits or which offers only highly restricted and/or controlled access.
Areas classified under Priority II include components which should be given a high degree of protection. Most often Priority II resources are “highly sensitive” or “sensitive”, or present a particular interest in terms of rarity and representativeness. Generally included among these resources are components that are rare for the island but which are able to tolerate use to a certain extent: components that are rare and highly representative; and representative but fragile components. Priority II also encompasses sectors considered “sensitive” or “highly sensitive” according to the numbers of components of interest or the degree to which they present a highly diversified distribution, as well as sectors which bear only slight traces of human activity and in which the current environment is the result of natural evolution.
These zones are likely to deteriorate whenever human use goes beyond controlled educational activities.
Coming under this category are sectors which cover a major portion of the national historic site, in particular the western and northwestern tips of this island, in addition to an area located in the centre of Grosse Île. For the most part, these sectors consist of stands of fir and maple whose vegetation presents a relatively high level of diversity. In addition, these plant communities are located on primarily thin, erosion-prone soil.
Priority II areas should be included within a “wilderness” zone, with diversity and fragility serving as the chief criteria for decisionmaking.
Components or sectors classified under Priority III are less a cause for concern than in the preceding levels on account of their capacity for tolerance and their relative abundance. Coming under this category of priority are, for the most part, components or sectors presenting a certain fragility but which either play particular role in the landscape or which arouse public curiosity. These areas are generally capable of tolerating dispersed, extensive-type activities.
On Grosse Île, this category encompasses a broad area of land, in particular wetlands (alder stands), and forests undergoing regeneration. The vegetation in younger wooded areas presents a high degree of diversity, whereas wetlands are generally more sensitive to disturbances. A number of these communities were subjected to relatively minor disturbance by past human activity.
Normally, these areas should be included with a “natural environment” zone, although the greater fragility of some sectors might argue in favour of their inclusion within a “wilderness” zone.
Sectors in this category correspond to the inhabited and developed areas of Grosse Île. These zones have undergone ecological disturbance. The measures recommended for Priority IV areas have been designed to permit sustainable development in accordance with applicable rules. A number of sectors included within this category may at some point require special conservation treatment, according to the diversity and the sensitivity of the sector. This is particularly true of ecotone zones located between developed areas and the shoreline.
In addition, a number of resources that appear on an irregular basis should be provided particular protection measures. Although conservation priorities for Grosse Île have been based primarily on plant communities, it should be pointed out that important colonies of bats may be found within the Priority IV zone. This resource is all the more interesting in that the world’s bat populations have been declining.
Components of areas “of interest” and classified as Priority IV should at some point be included in “day use” zones.
INDEX OF CONSERVATION PRIORITIES FOR GROSSE ÎLE
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Appendix 2: Conservation priorities for Grosse Île natural resources
Natural resources evaluation criteria
Definition of categories of conservation priority